Citizen Archivist Dashboard Demo

Uploaded by usnationalarchives on 08.03.2012

Jill Reilly James: Good afternoon. My name is Jill Reilly James.
I’m the social media manager at the National Archives, and I’m happy that
you’re all here today to join us for a demonstration of NARA’s Citizen Archivist Dashboard.
We have Meredith Stewart, who’s been really involved in this project since its inception through to its launch in December.
Some other tools have been continually added into the Dashboard, and we hope to continue development.
It’s been really exciting to see this project develop. It’s really a key part of our social media strategy to have
one place where citizen archivists and researchers can come to get involved in our different crowd-sourcing projects and other initiatives.
So again I’m happy to introduce Meredith Stewart. She’s a program management analyst with the open government team,
and works really closely with us on the social media team. So thanks very much, Meredith.
Meredith Stewart: Good Afternoon. I am going to do alive demo and I’m going to try to make it as interactive
as possible because there’s just a few of us and it can be really fun, the kind of stuff that we’re going to be doing.
Just two notes. There is wi-fi available, and if you look for Social Media Week you can access it.
There's login required, but you do need to accept the terms and click, I think, “submit.”
So if you want to use the wi-fi. And there’s also a Social Media Week hashtag if you want to tweet, which is #SMWeek.
At the National Archives we’re always trying to think of new ways to make our historical records more accessible.
We have about 130 million records online. And that seems like a lot, but we have over 10 billion pages of paper records alone.
So we have much more records than that, but just in terms of paper we have about 10 billion in the holdings of the National Archives.
So we know we’ve got to get creative. We’ve got to leverage technology in order to make records accessible online where people want them.
In order to do this we have taken a serious look at public participation and what it could mean for the National Archives.
Public participation itself is an important element of the National Archives’ work towards open government,
and it’s one of the reasons why we looked towards designing the Citizen Archivist Dashboard.
Because we really want to harness the input that the public can provide on our records.
So we’re going to start off with the Dashboard. And the slides of the Dashboard have been moving.
Just really quickly, if you’re on which is our website, you can easily find the Citizen Archivist Dashboard by going to
“Information for Citizen Archivists”, which is on the bottom left-hand side. And that brings you to the Citizen Archivist Dashboard.
We launched this at the end of December right before Christmas. And we’ve designed it based on the activity.
So we have tagging, transcription, editing articles, upload and share, and enter a contest.
And the slides run, but you can also select on the tabs and you can see all the different types of activities.
You can also find an activity by site. On the bottom we’ve also organized it by different sites where we have these activities occurring.
The Dashboard itself pulls together many of the initiatives we’re doing already on places like Flickr, Wikipedia, and on
We’ve designed it to be this portal for folks to come in, and it’s your one-stop shop. But it’s also been a catalyst for
developing new programs and ideas for public participation. One of those being the National Archives Transcription Pilot, which we
recently launched at the end of January. So we’ve been able to pull together stuff and also launch new activities.
Okay, so we’re going to go right into tagging. And I’m going to go a little bit in-depth with tagging,
just so you get a sense of what we’re doing. If you want to stay around for the tagathon afterwards, all this information will
really help you. So we’ve developed tagging missions, and we’ve represented them here on the page with
these really graphic pictures that represent each mission. And we’ve developed them in the catalog and on Flickr.
So if you want to start tagging in the National Archives catalog, we have a “Getting Started” section.
What you’re going to want to do is create a username and password. You need to do this before you can tag in our catalog.
It’s very simple, and you’ll get access immediately. I’m not going to create another username because I’ve done
this during demos and I’ve racked up a bunch of usernames. And then you’re going to need to log into the system.
So I’m going to go ahead and log in.
Then I’m going to go back to the dashboard. Hopefully that will – yeah, that’s stuck.
Then what you can do is you can select a mission and you can go through our records. So we’re going to start a mission.
Basically we’ve designed it so it will take you right into the catalog where there are images,
and you’re right there and you can start tagging. But you can also do a keyword search, and you can search on any topic
that’s of interest to you. It doesn’t have to be within a mission. And I’ll show you how to do that in a minute.
So when you bring up the item – and this is a very compelling item. It just so happens it’s the first of our list. A very striking image.
You’re going to see on the left-hand side “Tags Contributed by the Public.” And we’ve made it really clear that these are
the tags that the public has contributed. And if you select “Show More Details” you can see exactly who has added the tags.
And I’ve actually added a lot of tags because this is the first one that comes up and I’ve done a lot of demos, but for most
of the other records it’s not all my username. We’ve actually had the Archivist come in and
he’s added a tag very recently. I discovered that this morning. And what you can do is see when they were added.
You can also select the tag, and you’re going to see all the items in our catalog that have been tagged with that item.
So what we’re going to do is we’re going to go back to the results and we’re going to find one that we can tag.
I want to go to the last page. Okay. So does anyone in the audience have some tags for this? A good tag could be anything
that is meaningful to you. Something that’s represented in the image. It could be a photo, it could be photographic style,
if it’s a document it could be what’s written in the document. Maybe a name or a theme represented.
For this one does anyone have any suggestions? You can just yell them out.
“Strong.” Okay, so if you’re going to add a tag you type it in and either hit return or select “Add”. Hopefully this does it.
And you’re going to want for the dialog box to pop up before submitting another one. You can also add multiple tags. So anyone else?
“Poster.” Anyone else? “Fist, Flag.” Okay, so in our system you can add multiple tags, separating them by commas.
It’s kind of a faster way of tagging. I didn’t realize this at first, but I’ve been tagging for awhile. And when I discovered that I was like,
“I could have been adding ten at a time.” I found it does take a little bit longer for the dialog box to pop up, but then you’re submitting three at a time.
If you submit a tag that’s already in our system, it’s actually going to show that that was already submitted. Let’s see.
Another thing for you to do if you’re in a tagging mission – I’m actually at the last result – you can move
through the results by clicking “Previous Results” and “Next Results.” You can also do a keyword search,
like I said. Does anyone have a favorite president or a topic that they want me to search on? “Truman.”
Okay, so if you search for “Truman” – and I want to demo this just to show you, if you want to do it yourself –
what you want to do at this point, you’ve gotten search results, you want to select “View all online holdings.”
And then you’re going to see all of the great stuff that we have. And you can tag through this. You can actually tag video.
It’s a little bit more challenging. You want to start and stop the video because almost every scene you’re
going to see things that you want to tag. You can tag records, electronic records, any description, actually.
But if you want to narrow it down, you can actually go on the left-hand side. This is how you narrow down your
search results. If you just want to do photographic and graphic materials you can select that. And that’s going
to weed out other stuff. And it gets you right to it. And then you just select, and then you can get tagging.
So this is a picture of a lot of people. And it looks like a lot of the people are identified in the description,
but there could be a photo that has a lot of folks represented and doesn’t have that in the description.
You could even start tagging this photo with things that are in the description. “Potsdam, President Truman, Winston Churchill.”
That kind of thing. So let me see – I think I got all of it with tagging. Do we have any questions about tagging in our catalog? Yes.
Audience Member: So you don’t mind that there’s redundancy in the photo’s description and tagging?
Meredith Stewart: Sometimes it’s helpful to have it because the tags are going to link the other items. So the redundancy is actually kind of helpful.
Sometimes it’s helpful to … start tagging what you see in the description because you become more familiar with what you’re looking at by doing it.
That’s what I found. So if you start by saying, “Okay, who’s Charles Bolin?” You know, if you’re adding those then maybe
you go to Wikipedia and you look something up and you say, “Oh, this was a meeting about this topic.” And then you add that topic.
So I’ve found it helpful just for tagging. You can search just by tags. And the quick way to do that is “tag:____” and then type out the tag.
But if you don’t remember that – and I often don’t remember that – you can go to advanced search and there’s actually a field in here for
user-contributed tags. So if I do “Nixon”, let’s see what comes up. So we have five things that have been tagged with “Nixon” on it.
So if we open this up, you can see this has been tagged with “Nixon” and has a lot of other tags.
The more tags the better. It increases the accessibility of our documents and it really helps us find things again.
It helps the public find things again. Any other questions about tagging in our catalog?
Okay, we are going to then jump to – the other thing we have is we have also shared photos on Flickr.
We’ve actually shared thousands of photos on the Flickr Commons, which is where other cultural institutions have shared images.
And the thing that you should know about the images that we share on the Flickr Commons is that
they’re all marked with “No known copyright restrictions.” So you can use those in other ways.
In order to tag on Flickr – we have just selected four documents on our Dashboard Documerica sets that weren’t very well tagged.
There is an active community on Flickr, and they were tagging our photos way before we ever asked
anyone to tag anything. So we’ve had tens of thousands of tags added. We’ve actually done some
profiles of Flickr users who are particularly interested in sets of our photos.
We have one gentleman who has tagged prolifically photos related to LaGuardia Airport. And he has tagged the airplanes
and what he was seeing. We’ve had some folks do extra research like if a newspaper was held up, they’ve tried to figure out
what newspaper that was and what the exact date of the photo might have been. So it’s been really interesting to see tagging on Flickr,
and it has really inspired us to bring tagging into our own catalog. And one day we hope to bring the tags
that have been contributed on Flickr back into our catalog to enhance the accessibility of our records.
So in order to tag on Flickr, what you’re going to want to do is sign in. And I’m actually going to sign in as myself.
So now you can all email me if you want. I don’t check this address. You can also sign in with Facebook and Google now on Flickr.
If you want to add a tag, you go to the bottom right-hand corner and click “Add a tag.” And then this box pops up.
And you can see the tags that have already been added. We have “”U.S. National Archives.” We’ve added some to it like
“Documerica” and “Environmental Protection Agency.” And then others have been added. And if you hover you can see who has added the tag.
So does anyone have any for this one? We have “U.S. National Archives, Environmental Protection Agency,
Documerica, signage, San Francisco, 1972, EPA, Litter is Bad News Don’t Spread it Around, Shasta Beverages, and Shasta.”
Anything else? There are some things in this photo that aren’t tagged yet. “Horses.” Now if you’ve added a tag in Flickr
you can actually delete it. So if you make a mistake you can just click X and then add it again.
If you want to add multiple - spaces in Flickr separate tags, so if you want to add multiple words as a string,
you want to do quotes around the tag. Anyone else? Tags for this photo? “Power lines. Billboard.”
If you want to tag in Flickr we have several missions, like I said, on our Dashboard. We have these four missions.
But if you’re just looking for our photos, if you click on our name or go to
And what you can see is what we’ve shared on Flickr. And so the left-hand side is our stream.
So that’s in the order that we’ve put things up. That’s how it appears.
But then we have collections on the right-hand side. And there’s sets within those collections.
So if you want to look at women’s history, you can see the different sets that we have within women’s history.
I’ve selected “Notable Women,” and we have a bunch of photos. And as you go on, you can move forward right there.
There’s a lot of people represented in this photo, for instance. It would be great if someone was at this event, they could come in and
tag names and places. So that is tagging. Any questions about tagging on Flickr or the National Archives on Flickr? Alright.
Next we’re going to go to transcription.
The reason we do transcription is the same reason we want the public to contribute to tagging:
transcription really helps records be more accessible to the public. So not only is it going to help in searching for the records,
but it’s also going to help when someone finds that record. Instead of having to struggle with the handwritten document,
they easily have it there to read and to make sense of the document. So we have two options available.
One is the national Archives Transcription Pilot Project, which we launched ourselves at the end of January.
And the other one is transcription on Wikisource. I’m actually going to demo the Wikisource
transcription first, and then I’m going to demo the National Archives Transcription Pilot.
Wikisource is a sister project of Wikipedia. It’s one of the many Wikimedia Foundation projects.
Wikisource itself is for primary sources – the transcription of primary sources and making those primary sources available.
So the holdings of the National Archives, our records, really fit perfectly with Wikisource. We’ve got a lot of material.
And the folks that work and do things on Wikipedia, Wikisource, and the other projects are very active. And you yourself may
be working there. So we have a lot of wikipedians who are very active and who are taking a look at this.
We’ve launched this as part of the work that we’ve done this year with our Wikipedian-in-Residence,
and we’ve launched quite a few projects that wikipedians are working on. We started off by sharing thousands
of images from our online catalog onto Wikimedia Commons. So just like we did on Flickr, we’ve shared our
high-resolution images on the Wikimedia Commons. And then those images become useful on all these other sites.
On Wikisource what we’ve done is we’ve selected documents that need to be transcribed and we’ve pulled them forward
here for folks to come in. So if you select one of these, you can actually see the transcription that’s been done.
We work to refresh this site. These documents get done very fast, so it’s hard for us to keep up and keep
identifying documents that need to be transcribed. But we are working on some processes to do that. And what you’re
going to see when you click over to Wikisource – there’s instructions at the top that help you through it.
They do want you to create a login and sign in. And then what you can do is take a look at the document and transcribe it.
There’s editing tools available. There’s actually an OCR button that you can start with, if that makes sense.
You can see the results before you … This last document down here hasn’t been done yet, and I was just playing with this before.
This document hasn’t been started. So you can actually select OCR first, and then you can decide if this
is worth cleaning up, or is it more work for me to clean up? Do I just want to delete this and start over again?
I think I personally would delete it, because it’s a pretty straightforward document.
It’s talking about Mr. Yates and the government milch-goats. I looked up milch-goats and I haven’t been able to
find anything on those, but I assume that they exist. And so then you can save it, and it goes back into Wikisource
and makes things more accessible. We’re also linking these transcriptions that are done on Wikisource back into our catalog.
So if you find something in our catalog, we’re going to have the link there as an online resource.
And you can go back out, and you can see where the transcription is on Wikisource.
I think that’s it for Wikisource unless there’s any questions about our transcription. We can do questions at the end. Okay.
We’re going to go to the National Archives Transcription Pilot Project. What we’ve done right here is where you can kind of start.
You can also go directly to We’ve selected 300 documents ranging from
Civil War, World War I, World War I. We’ve organized them into three different categories –
beginner, intermediate, and advanced – based on the level of difficulty we feel like it might take someone to do it.
We launched January 25th with about – the 300 documents represented a little over 1,000 pages. It was about 1,050.
And within the first day a lot was done. I would say more than half of it was moved over to completed.
But within two weeks everything had been moved over to “partially transcribed” or “transcribed.” So we’re working right now on
refreshing this. The public has been really, really interested in transcription, and the response has been really fantastic.
So “The Diary of Robert E. Peary,” I’m going to select. You can select a document from here. These are the featured documents.
Or you can also browse documents, which I will demo in a minute. So, The Diary of Robert E. Peary.
105 pages. This is the first page. To start off with you can navigate up here. This is an advanced document.
The handwriting is a bit difficult and there are a lot of pages. That’s why we put it in the advanced category.
If you want to find out more about the document, we have the link to the right-hand side that’s going to take you
right into our catalog. And you can see more information, what series, you can scroll down and find out
additional information about this item including a little scope and content. So each one has that link.
You can also – especially for this document, which is 105 pages – you can skip forward to the next untranscribed page.
And we thought that feature was really nice because you wouldn’t want to look at 50 pages that someone’s already worked
on if you’re looking to get started right away. We have a locking feature, and it’s actually popped up for this page.
This means someone else is looking at this page right now, and it’s going to let that person edit but it’s not going to let us edit.
We chose to do transcription at the page level instead of the document level. So each page, someone can work on for two reasons.
One, it allows multiple people to work on a document at the same time. And second, by breaking it up it
makes it less disastrous if something were to be lost. At the page level you’ve only lost a page.
You haven’t lost a hundred pages of transcription. And so that’s what we’ve done.
You can zoom in and out on the image with these buttons right here on the bottom right-hand side – with the plusses and minuses.
I’ve also noticed that when I was testing the system, zooming gets you something, but if you also step back
from the computer sometimes you see things a little differently. It’s kind of interesting sitting behind people
who were transcribing; I saw things differently than when I was the person looking at the screen that close.
So we have some things on the left-hand side. We’re telling you that someone has actually marked this page as completed.
So although someone else is looking at this page right now the page has been marked as completed. And comments have been
made on this page. What we’re asking you to do is if you want to put a comment you can put it here. You can talk about
difficulties with transcriptions. This person is asking why this one was marked completed when it has multiple illegible notations.
So what we’re asking you to do is use the comments as you see fit. It is a pilot. We’re learning what people want to use
the comments for, what’s helpful. There is no login with our system. We designed it to be simple and easy to use.
And we think that’s one of the reasons that we’ve had so much success. As soon as we sent a tweet or posted it to Facebook, people could click
and get started right away. You didn’t have to – we didn’t have multiple barriers to entry. It is really easy to participate.
Let’s see. So I showed comments. When you are working on it – I’ll go to a page that’s not locked so you can see the transcription.
Let’s go to next untranscribed page. Okay. So page 77 is currently locked. We’ll try again. Currently locked.
Someone’s really looking at this document right now. I might have to go to another document.
This person might have all of the pages open and they might be referencing things within the document.
If you’re going to look for another document you can go to Browse Documents at the top. We also have Tips,
Frequently Asked Questions, and Policy, which we ask that you take a look at. The tips are guidelines,
things that we’re asking in the transcription. First is to save your work very frequently. Don’t correct spelling mistakes.
Be true to the document. So if someone misspells a name and you think it’s supposed to be something else,
keep it true to the document as it was written. Transcribe in a way that makes sense for the document.
We purposefully chose in our Transcription Pilot to choose documents that were pretty straightforward.
Left to right, up to down. Mostly. Not documents with a ton of tables or complicated features.
There are some complicated documents, but we primarily chose documents that were handwritten
and straightforward. But depending on the document you might need to start transcribing in a different way.
Really what we’re doing right now is taking a look at what people do and then figuring out what kind of guidelines
we really need to get the products that we want, to put these in our catalog, and to make all these records more accessible.
You can use the comments page discuss problems. We’re asking folks if they can’t make out a word to use “Illegible.”
And when they want to make a notation to use brackets. That’s pretty standard in other things. And to indicate non-textual
items like stamps and seals. There’s some very interesting documents we’ve included that have those types of things.
So we’re going to browse documents. You can select by difficulty, by year – but please note we have about 300 documents.
We don’t have documents for every year, so you may want to leave this out. But if you do know you’re looking for
something from 1864 you can go right to that year – and then by transcription status. So we’ll do something that is
partially transcribed. And let’s look at the … this is Moses Honner Certificate of Removal, and it’s partially transcribed.
So what you’re going to see is the work that folks have done. And you can check it, which we’re encouraging folks to do.
We’d love for you to check the work of previous people. One thing about our system is that it’s an iterative process.
So you’re saving over the work of other people, but we don’t have previous changes like
you would see on Wikisource or other Wiki-type environments available to the users. We went really easy and simple.
Our inspiration for this was actually a project out of MIT called Doc Edgerton’s Notebooks. It was really, really simple.
I encourage everyone to look at it. It’s a plain text box like we’ve done. We don’t have editing tools.
It makes it super fast and easy to do it. You’re losing some of the details, the more complicated things that you would get from it.
But we’re weighing the public’s use and how easy it would be with the benefit of adding things that would make it more difficult.
So if you take a look at this and you want to give it a try, and you see mistakes, and you edit it, and you think it’s complete,
then you can save it as complete. If this was already saved as complete and you’re in there checking and you think
this document actually needs more work, you can save it as incomplete. So when you put it in complete it’s not stuck in complete.
It can be bumped out. That’s how we’ve designed it for right now. And we’re really experimenting. We’re seeing what
it’s going to take for us to get to a point where these records are ready and they don’t need any more eyes on them.
And one way you can do that that is really, really helpful is if you type the word “illegible” in the search box.
Because this is what we’ve asked folks to use when they can’t make out a word. And what you can do is,
all of the pages that are going to come up have words that folks can’t quite make out. And so this one is called Teachers’ Rules.
And what I like to do at this point is do Control+F and search. And what you’re going to do is – you’ll see there’s 45 in your
browser’s find box. 45 illegibles. So this document obviously needs somebody to take a look at it. It has been marked completed
because someone has interpreted completed as “I’ve done all I can do.” But what we’re encouraging people now to do is to go
in and search for illegibles. Does anyone have any questions about the transcription tool? Anything that they want to see? Yes?
Audience Member: I’m just curious about your decision process, using the third party things. When did you decide to use which one?
Meredith Stewart: So we’ve kind of taken a multi-pronged approach, and we’re investigating and very much exploring.
Does it make sense for us to do a site like this where we have maybe more control over it, or does it make sense to maybe just look
at something that’s on another site? We very much wanted to try it ourselves. And I think by doing this pilot we’ve learned a lot of
things that we wouldn’t have learned by just kind of going with another site. Workflow.
Getting the status at each page and how that rolls up to the document level. I don’t think we would have ever really delved that
deeply unless we had struggled with our own pilot project. Going forward we’re going to see what
makes sense for us. And I think we’re really keeping our options open, but exploring what’s out there.
Audience Member: Follow-up to that. Organizationally – you said a couple of things that make it sound like this takes care and feeding on your side.
You have to feed the documents into this. In the organization, who’s doing that? Who really cares about seeing things happen?
Meredith Stewart: So there’s a lot of proponents within the National Archives. At the very top, the Archivist of the United States is
very interested in this, David Ferriero. He’s very interested in the Citizen Archivist Dashboard and about developing
activities that the public can really participate and contribute. So we definitely have a lot of interest. In terms of the work that has
primarily been done within our Open Government division, it was led by myself. Some help from our web team, social media,
our catalog team. We kind of had a bunch of different things come together to make this happen. It hasn’t taken very many
people to get the site running. The site itself is a content management system based on Drupal. It’s CMS on Drupal.
It’s actually pretty easy to upload. We only use documents that are already digitally available and stand in our catalog.
Folks come up to me and say, “I have these great records! It’d be great for transcription!” I love it. I need you to get
them into the catalog because that’s other steps along the process. So we’re kind of picking what’s already available.
Another thing that was in our consideration was that some of the older scans aren’t necessarily great for transcription.
And so we had to take a look and see if this is something that people can actually do. And some of the advanced documents
that we’ve selected, the scanned ones aren’t that great. And that’s why they’re in the advanced category. But a lot of things where the scans
were a bit older, they weren’t at such a high resolution, we didn’t include them. Any other questions? Okay, great questions.
I think that’s it for our transcription tool. I’m just going to go quickly through the – I’m going to go back to the Dashboard and I’m going
to go quickly through Edit Articles and the last three. So we have several options for folks.
We have one site that is specifically run by the social media team, and it’s called Our Archives Wiki.
And our researchers and the public are encouraged to come here. You can upload your images of documents.
You can write articles about those documents, or about themes in our records. You can put research tips.
And I can click so you can take a look at that page. So this is Our Archives. It’s like a wiki. And it’s done on Wikispaces.
The other options we have are on Wikipedia. So we’re really tapping into that wikipedian community who are
interested in our records and interested in getting NARA images throughout Wikipedia. We have several projects.
One involving Ansel Adams’s photographs. So the first sets of high-resolution images we shared were Ansel Adams’s
photographs during his work with the National Park Service. And this project itself encourages wikipedians to include these
images on articles that are related. So I’m not sure what this is. It might be a glacier or something. You would go to that article for that,
and you’re going to see more National Archives photographs. The Ansel Adams photographs are actually beign featured.
Additionally we have Today’s Document Challenge, which encourages folks to write new articles or expand existing articles
related to the National Archives feature called Today’s Document. It’s been a longstanding feature on
and it’s now on Tumblr. And so we’ve actually had some folks write brand new articles, and they’ve been featured on the home page of Wikipedia.
So that’s what we have for editing articles and expanding the body of knowledge about records related to the National Archives.
The next is Upload and Share. You can click on the left-hand side, you can click on the bottom of any page, and you can also
go back to the main page, which is where the slides are. And then Upload and Share. So Upload and Share is
particularly important for us when we think about researchers who are in our research rooms around the country every day.
If you’ve ever been in a National Archives research room, what you discover is that people are very serious about it and
there’s a lot of cameras and equipment and scanners. All kinds of things where they’re capturing images of our records.
And we’ve been approached by researchers in the past and currently who would like to share their images with us.
They’d like to see them included in the catalog. We haven’t been able to digitize it. Like I said, we have over 10 billion pages of paper.
So we don’t have, percentage-wise, that much of a proportion of it actually digitized. So we’d love to be able to feature it.
We are exploring tools that would automate this, that would capture sophisticated metadata. We’re kind of still
exploring that right now. That’s what we’d love to move to, so we can grab it and pull it back into our catalog.
For right now what we’ve done is we’ve set up a Flickr group called The Citizen Archivist Flickr Group.
And we’ve had quite a few folks – what we’re asking is to put some basic information. So we’re not being
strict with standards because we’re not really accepting these back into our catalog. We’re just grouping them
and making them available to the public. So we’re encouraging researchers to use this to share
what they’ve discovered. And so we’ve embedded a slideshow of all the images that have been featured
And this one in particular I find really interesting. This is by Marie in Shaw. And she has shared with us –
I don’t think Marie in Shaw is here today. That would be really cool if she was. But she has shared with us a
photo that she took in Record Group 302. And it’s a picture in DC. And I actually went and found the series where
she said she pulled it from. This has not been digitized, so she has made it available. And it’s in the series
“Records Regarding Alleys Considered and Not Considered for Reclamation, 1934-1957."
And what I’ve done is I’ve included a description back to our catalog. So she’s really doing something here.
She’s taken the photo, she’s digitized it when she was in our research room, and now
she’s making it available. And we can provide at least a link to it in this way.
The next thing is Enter a Contest. In the past year we’ve had three contests. The most recent one was
Document Your Environment Student Multimedia Contest which is actually run by the social media team, including Mary
who is here at the back. And this was really, really cool. We had students ages 13 and up submit multimedia products
in a variety of categories. And what they’ve done is they were supposed to take inspiration from the original 1970’s Documerica
photographs that were in our collection from the EPA. And so what we’ve done is we’ve shown the winners. They were actually
just announced. And you can scroll through them. And this image right here was the grand finalist. And the rest are finalists.
Basically we’re looking at contests as a different way of working with the records. Whereas a researcher is going to do something that –
researching this particular topic, contests have a different approach and they help the public engage in records in new,
fun, and creative ways. So the most recent one was the Document Your Environment Contest. And then previous ones
include I Found it at the National Archives, which encouraged researchers to share their stories of things that they found in our archives.
We actually ran this on Tumblr. Kristen ran this. She’s in the back of the room. The image that’s
on here is actually from the winning entry that was found in our records. And it’s a folk map.
“More Than a World War II Folk Map” was the winning essay. And that’s the folk art map that was part of the essay.
And then finally our first contest, we were really ahead of our time. This is kind of all over the media right now.
And there’s even a commercial that features this. But we asked folks to take our images and mash it up with present reality.
And it was called History Happens Here. And you can see folks got really creative. It required printing out our photographs
and then trying to find exactly where that photograph was taken. And we got some really cool results from that. So that’s our contests,
and you can stay tuned to see what we do in the future. I don’t think we have any on the horizon yet, so we’d love to hear suggestions.
And then there’s the Citizen Archivists Events page, which is brand new. We have the information for today.
And if you’re staying with us later for the Tagathon, these are the four missions that we’re going to be working on.
And so we’ve created this just to feature events like this where you can learn about what’s going on around the Citizen Archivist Dashboard
and crowd-sourcing. We also feature on here our Wikipedia-related events. We’ve had quite a few wikipedian events
here at the National Archives, so if you’re interested in getting involved in that. And then when there were
presentations we’ve actually gone ahead and embedded the video. So you can watch previous lectures
and events where we’ve talked about citizen archivists and our crowd-sourcing projects.
And then our last page is – oh, I just wanted to point out Find an Activity by Site. We’ve developed it so you can
kind of cross the Dashboard as quickly as possible. You’re looking for Flickr, just click on Flickr and you see I’ve
got two options in Flickr. I can do missions or I can join the Citizen Archivist Group. And so we’ve just kind of
done that so you can cross the site in a different way if you don’t want to do it by activity. If you want to do it just by site –
if you’re a wikipedian and you just want to look for the stuff on Wikipedia or Wikisource, you can do that really easily.
So I’m going to end with Make a Suggestion. We’re really in the beginning stages of this.
We’ve thought a lot about this, but we would love to hear more suggestions. So I can take any questions right now. Yes?
Audience Member: Who on the social media team, the web team ... who works on this project?
Meredith Stewart: It’s just me and a student who are full time on the Dashboard itself, but really the Dashboard represents the work
of a lot of other people. So our work on Wikipedia, our work on Flickr. The Social Media Team does a lot of that work. Our work on contests.
Meredith Doviak: We have four permanent people and then additional students.
Meredith Stewart: So four permanent people and some additional students who work on that.
In addition to our other social media, which is available – if you go to and go to Connect With Us on the bottom left.
If you click “More” you’re going to see all of the Web 2.0 social media tools that we use. And we’ve actually made –
in a very open government, transparent way – all of our terms of service that are signed are up online.
We have a strategy, policies, frequently asked questions. And so it’s a really good resource.
Audience Member: So this is similar to public affairs?
Meredith Stewart: So what you’re going to see on these pages is social media around the National Archives.
All of our regional sites, all of our presidential libraries. There’s a lot of work of a lot of people. Yes?
Audience Member: You mentioned that everything that you have is public domain. If you want to use this content, how do you access it?
Meredith Stewart: Okay, so you have several options. Our challenges we’ve run on,
which is a platform for agencies to run contests like this. I’m trying to look to see. So for the original Documerica photos,
you can either go to Flickr or you can go in our online catalog. If you find Flickr to be easy, it is there. We’ve shared it on Flickr.
It’s a good resource. You just click on the photo and you can click on sizes and download it. You can also do it from our online catalog.
And so if we were going to do the first one and you wanted to print it, you can actually just click. We have a nice big “Download this Image”.
And then it’s going to pop up into a new screen, and you’re getting that image. Any other questions?
Audience Member: So have you as a cultural institution had any challenges? People saying the public doesn’t know everything?
Concern about who will control the information that you’re putting out? How do you overcome that? Or do you feel like you overcome that?
Meredith Stewart: I think it’s an ongoing process. I think there’s certainly – I’ve been with the agency almost four years and
I feel like the tide has shifted. Maybe not in all camps, culturally. But certainly having the Archivist that is kind of spearheading
this and talking about it and being such a huge proponent of it is really what’s made it happen. And then we can all really work in
this new environment and see things as contributions from the public aren’t threatening. They’re actually really, really helpful.
And if we can get more folks to understand how we can use it and how it’s helpful, then people really do see it pretty quickly.
Especially the transcription tool. When people see the transcription tool, I’ve seen people change by even just watching it.
They’re coming in and they’re kind of a little concerned about putting things out to the public to crowd-source.
Also what helps is to talk about Wikipedia. We’ve come a long way with our understanding of Wikipedia.
In the early days people were very concerned about Wikipedia, and we know now that it’s the continual edits
and people who – nothing is static. If it’s wrong it can be changed. And really seeing that as a good thing
and as maybe even in some cases superior – because we don’t know everything about our records.
So it’s helpful to get the public working on it. We may have historians who come in who have the context that we might not have.
Or people who have looked through records and discovered something that we actually didn’t know were in the records.
So it’s a process, but it is definitely – I feel like the tide has shifted and we’re moving towards this in all areas. Any other questions? Yes?
Audience Member: What kind of discussion do you have around the reality of lots of interesting, valuable information that’s
being generated and held in repositories like Flickr which you don’t control? You can’t really guarantee –
like Flickr Commons, there’s uncertainty about that at times. I work at the Smithsonian and that’s something I
struggle with thinking about. You know, the advantages of using third party tools that have already-established networks,
but not really having control over that information. Like with the transcription tool, where you do it. But I don’t know if you’ve had this conversation.
Meredith Stewart: We do, all the time. We’re thinking about those. We’ve done a lot of thinking about branding and
what does it mean when our images are on Flickr or other places. And really the benefits have really outweighed any sort of risks.
And any of the risks that have been brought up in the past like, “What’s the public going to do with this record?” or
“Is someone going to deface this or use it in a malicious way?” Those concerns have not so far been realized.
They always come up, and we say, “You know what, we haven’t really seen it.”
And then we continue to not see those kinds of problems and concerns that people might have.
We see it as really strengthening the National Archives by putting our images on Wikimedia Commons.
And now people can see it when you’re on Wikipedia. If you click the image, our logo is right there. Our links back to our catalog.
We really do think that having those links back to our authoritative catalog are really important. We do that on all of our Flickr pictures.
So we just try to keep it cohesive, keep it coming back. And kind of thinking forward, what it really requires for bringing any
of the information that’s generated out there back in is really discussion about APIs. And we’re talking about that a lot. Yes?
Audience Member: You mentioned the photo stream on Flickr. Is everything that you've put in there so far actually not free of copyright?
Meredith Stewart: I’m not going to say authoritatively, “No.” But they’re not known to us.
The things that we have selected to show in the transcription tool and in other spaces –
primarily what we do is we take a look in our catalog and see what the use and access restrictions are in our catalog.
And if there are no known restrictions, then we repurpose. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have stuff that
someone might have a valid copyright claim over. We are very receptive to any sort of inquiries.
And we have a new email address,, where we’re encouraging folks.
Actually I can show you on our transcription tool. This speaks directly to that question. On our policy page, which I didn’t show,
second to last bullet point. “If you think any of the information on the National Archives Transcription Pilot Project
is subject to a valid copyright claim, please contact us at” So we do find with some
things in our catalog, unknown to us someone still has a valid copyright over it. And we are responsive to that.
Jill James: At the National Archives we're a little bit unique in that the overwhelming majority of our records came from the government.
Audience Member: I was just wondering if someone can republish these materials.
Meredith Stewart: They can grab it and publish it. That’s fine. As a federal government agency we have the
unique position that the overwhelming majority of our stuff is not going to have copyright claims because
it was produced as a product of the federal government. And so that’s why we do so much in the
Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and spaces like that. Any other questions? Yes?
Audience Member: Are you doing anything special with any other organizations?
I don't know whether the Digital Public Libraries are doing a similar thing?
Meredith Stewart: I can’t really speak to the Digital Public Libraries Project, but the Archivist of the United States and
NARA leadership are very involved in that and they’re in the conversations. So certainly the work that
we’re doing with the Citizen Archivist Dashboard is informing that process. We are open to any sort of collaboration.
We’ve actually been doing demos. We’re really brand new. We launched at the end of December and we’ve been
doing demos for folks since then just to get it out there. And we’re open if anyone wants to come and collaborate.
What’s interesting is that we could possibly collaborate to pull out our records from agencies. So we have EPA and other agencies where
we hold their records. Like the Document Your Environment Contest was in conjunction with the EPA. So we’re looking for ways to do that.
Any other questions? Well thank you very much for coming.
And in between this and the Tagathon we’re going to be upstairs. And we can answer questions and show you anything on
the devices that we’ve brought with us. Thank you so much for coming, and stay around for the Tagathon. Thanks.